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Q: The real challenge is to define consciousness. In The Emperor’s New Mind, physicist Roger Penrose makes a good effort at describing what it is not. How, I wonder, do you define what it is?
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CdeQ: As far as I know, I have never defined “consciousness.” Instead, I prefer to clarify what I mean. I make a clear and (to me) important distinction between a meaning and a definition of consciousness.
“Meaning” refers to how the word is actually used. Different people may (and do) use the word “consciousness” to mean different things. A “definition,” by contrast, is usually understood to be the correct meaning of the word (typically, as explained in a dictionary).
Meanings are subjective; definitions are (or are assumed to be) objective. So, what matters to me is not the “definition” of consciousness (something written “in stone”), but how people actually use the word. It doesn’t really matter which meaning we use, as long as we make it as clear as we can what we mean. We don’t even have to agree on the same meaning to understand each other.
So, in my work I’m quite clear what I mean when I use the term: Consciousness is the ability or capacity to know, be aware of, to feel. It means subjectivity, sentience, experience—plus the ability to choose. All of these are non-physical aspects of reality.
In brief: Consciousness is the intrinsic ability of matter/energy to feel, know, and purposefully direct itself.
Consciousness feels out possibilities, makes a choice, and manifests something actual (i.e., it literally in-forms and shapes reality).
Whenever you make a choice you are feeling/knowing the possibilities that surround you, and purposefully directing your energy to achieve some aim.
Consciousness, as choice, is the expression of intention through energy. It collapses possibilities into manifest actuality.
That’s what we mean when we say “consciousness is creative.” It truly is—as quantum physicists and enlightened mystics know very well.
Here’s a scientific blessing:
“May you always collapse your wave function (your possibilities) to manifest your highest aim.”